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Remembering Dr. King

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Monday is the day the nation will commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I understand entirely why some choose to mark the day by engaging in some specific work of social justice, by going out to feed the hungry or clothe the naked. It is a beautiful way to remember Dr. King. But only, and I repeat the adverb, only if we have first learned about Dr. King.

Faith Leaders To Congress: Help Tone It Down

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A group of faith leaders from many denominations have written a letter to members of Congress in the wake of the Arizona massacre, calling for less rancor and citriol in public debate. The letter was released by the group Faith in Public Life. Here is the full text:

Dear Members of Congress,

As Americans and members of the human family, we are grieved by the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. As Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, we pray together for all those wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she fights for her life. Our hearts break for those lives lost and for the loved ones left behind. We also stand with you, our elected officials, as you continue to serve our nation while coping with the trauma of this senseless attack.

This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed time of soul searching and national public dialogue about violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates.

How We Mourn Together & How Obama Saved Last Night

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I was feeling churlish about the non-denominational memorial service last night as it began. It is at moments like this that I wish we had an established church. Non-denominational tends to turn into lowest common denominator pretty quickly, and we cast our politicians in the roles of preachers, a role for which they are usually ill-equipped and are constitutionally ill-suited: In the face of death, the sure hope in the Resurrection is the only hope available, and Americans squirm when politicians get too doctrinal.

GOP Hypocrisy Watch: Whiplash

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Jonathan Chait, at the New Republic, explains (sort of) how Republicans were opposed to high-risk pools, then angry they were delayed, and now that they are delayed, the want to...well, it is not clear what they want to do with the high-risk pools. But that is what happens when you are more committed to politics than to policy. Chait's piece would be funny if the GOP was still in the minority but seeing as they are not, it is just depressing.

WaPo is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

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This morning, the editors of the Washington Post weigh in on plans to build a high speed rail system in California. They raise understandable worries about the plans for the rail system, the imprecise studies about ridership, etc. These are all important issues, although the editors of the Post exercised far less scrutiny when looking at the studies that they claimed justified a new "Purple Line" in DC's suburbs.
But, the Post's editors have missed the forst for the trees. America no longer builds great public works. Most visitors to Washington will have gone to Union Station, the magnificent train terminal opened in 1907. Penn Station in New York used to be a similarly grand structure until it was torn down. Grand Central Station continues to impress with its architecture and its utility. Why do we not build such grand structures anymore?

Complex Joy

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Especially as our culture grows more hurried and harried and our means of communication grow ever faster, we like to think of simple joys and simple times. I like simple joys as much as the next person, but I also like joys that promise more complexity. For example, a Bach chorale prelude as much as a Gregorian chant. A Cabernet Sauvignon as much as a Pinot Grigio.
It has been announced that one of life's more enjoyable, complex pleasures is coming to Washington. To help commemorate the inauguration of the new President of Catholic University, John Garvey, on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the university's patron, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. will be preaching at the university Mass. Noon in the Crypt Church at the National Shrine. A DiNoia sermon is not to be missed and it is unlikely to be simple. But, I wouldn't want to miss it.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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